Boing Boing 

Volcano Dust -- bhut jolokia (ghost chili) powder

Cliff Pickover mentioned this stuff on Twitter. Volcano Dust is powdered bhut jolokia, one of the hottest chili peppers on Earth (125 times hotter than a jalapeño). In the current issue of MAKE, we ran Gabriel Nagmay's article on how to grow your own bhut jolokia peppers.

Bloodshoot: fun thriller comic book written by Duane Swierczynski

The nanobots coursing through Bloodshot’s system give him enormous strength and the ability to survive being shot, stabbed, or bombed, because they detect and repair damage. All they ask in return is that their host eats plenty of protein to keep them fueled.

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Dear Evolution, get bent

Imaginary letters, in which giraffes, angora rabbits, and emperor penguins air their grievances against the forces of natural selection.

March community-building-and-tribal-unity/Madness

At the Wall Street Journal, Eric Simmons writes about the psychology of March Madness, which is really the psychology of relationships and the deep emotional bonds underlying communities and tribes. When you cheer on the Wichita State Shockers in the Final Four, what you're really doing is introducing other people (and other groups) into your definition of self.

Indoor/Outdoor Humidex Thermometer

We plan activities around weather forecasts. However, the information is often from sensors far from our location. I want data from my backyard with the convenience of not having to go outside to read it. I have been using the wireless Indoor/Outdoor Humidex Thermometer for over two years. It is perfect for my needs. I have placed it in a central location in the house and I take a glance at the readings every time I pass it (at least ten times a day).

Setting it up is a snap. First insert two AA batteries into the back of the monitor and two more into the remote outside sensor. Press the reset button on both and you should begin receiving data which is displayed on the monitor. Look for a suitable place to locate the sensor. A shady area is recommended for accurate readings. The maximum transmission range is 45 meters but that is in open spaces. Walls will cut down on the separation distance. A signal detector icon indicates how strong the connection is between the two devices. Using this will help you find the best place to put each of the two gadgets. The remote sensor is splash proof but it should not be exposed to heavy rain. I have put mine under the eaves of my garage. The monitor can be mounted on a wall or placed on any flat surface.

This particular model is perfectly suited for cold Canadian weather. The remote temperature sensor is good for -50°C to 70°C (-58°F to 158°F). The main difference between this monitor and the competition is that this model provides decimal temperature readings, which is a rarity. A temperature of 16.6°C to 17.4°C would register as 17°C on most monitors. I appreciate this precision because I am sure I can tell the difference between these two readings. On the monitor there is a battery indicator icon, letting you know when the power is starting to go. The batteries should last about 12 months.

Besides the indoor/outdoor temperatures, the monitor also displays the outside humidity and a “Humidex” index to indicate how comfortable/uncomfortable the temperature really is outside. -- Marcel Dufresne

Thermor Bios Indoor/Outdoor Humidex Thermometer $32

In which Charles Darwin gets trolled

From Darwin's diary written aboard the HMS Beagle, an accounting of an epic April Fool's prank of 1832. Knowing what I know about 19th-century sailors, this seems like a good way to get beaten up.

Project: Recycle old scientific equipment into new tools for public engagement

When ocean scientist Andrew Thaler found an old, outdated water level gauge, he found a way to give it new life — turning it into a tool to measure public interest in sea level rise. Instead of tracking water, the Sea Leveler tracks how much people are talking about water on Twitter.

And all the vaginas are well above average

At Double X Science, Jenny Morber has an excellent piece about the wide range of diversity seen in human lady parts. "Are you normal? Yes. Are you average? No. Most likely," she writes. What follows is a fascinating tour of human biology, from the different lengths and colors of labia to the wide range of shapes exhibited by the inside of the vaginal canal, itself. Even better, all of this can change over the course of an individual woman's life, rendering "average" even more meaningless.

Great dad dies (also, he was a scientist)

Handsome Dad of the Year (a former brunette) took out the garbage without fail, did the family shopping, and is remembered fondly by his step-daughters/first-cousins-once-removed. Also, outside the home, he discovered something called "relativity". Jennie Dusheck has a great follow up to a story that Xeni posted about earlier today.

Cartoonist Ed Piskor interviewed

Here's our own cartoonist Ed Piskor being interviewed at Columbus Museum of Art by Jared Gardner on March 24, 2013. It's great to hear him talk about his influences and interests in this hour long conversation.

Ed Piskor is the recipient of the Columbus Museum of Art and Thurber House 2013 Graphic Novelist Residency. He has drawn stories for underground comics legend Harvey Pekar, and published the book Wizzywig about the history of hacking. His current comic, Hip Hop Family Tree, is serialized at The first volume of Hip Hop Family Tree will be published this year by Fantagraphics.

Jared Gardner is Professor of English and Film Studies at The Ohio State University and director of the Pop Culture Studies program. He published the book Projections: Comics and Twenty-First Century Storytelling in 2012.

Unicorn farts: the smell of April Fool's day

Lizzy writes from Austin's magnificent toy emporium Toy Joy:

Here at Toy Joy, April Fools Day smells like Unicorns! Specifically, Unicorn Farts! Not only is April 1 celebrated globally as a holiday of mischief, it also happens to be the best day for harvesting the rarest of poots: Unicorn Farts! Currently offered both in store at Toy Joy and at for the low price of $2.95, this enchanted product is sure to bring a smile to your prince or princess.

* 100% Organic Concentrated Unicorn Farts
* Unique Addition to Most Fart Collections!
* Important Ingredient for Magic Spells.
* Handy Household Fragrance.
* Delicious on Salads!

We anticipate a high demand for these rarest of odors, and recommend stocking up on this magical product. Unicorn Farts won't be around forever!

Please feel free to contact the wizarding team at Toy Joy for additional information on this product, or the harvesting process. Send all emails to

Three's Company pilot with different actors

The rather dreadful 1970s sitcom Three's Company adapted the UK sitcom Man About the House for American TV; it ran for eight seasons and was heavily syndicated through my whole childhood, and as with many people of my age, it lurks in my subconscious.

It turns out there was an unaired pilot that used some of the same cast, but a different writing team and a somewhat smarter brand of comedy, and it's surfaced on YouTube. Here's Wikipedia's description of that pilot:

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How to write about Muslims

"The Western press and social media often seem to exercise two options for dealing with the Muslim population of the world: overt, unabashed Islamophobia or slightly subtler Islamophobia," writes contributor Belen Fernandez at Al Jazeera English. She has some suggestions on how to avoid clichés and stereotypes.

Scientists not quite done ripping off Henrietta Lacks and family

"History seems to have repeated itself. A group of scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg recently published a paper in which they sequenced the entire genome of a HeLa cell – essentially putting Henrietta Lacks's DNA sequence up on the internet for all to see. Amazingly, they failed to alert anyone in the Lacks family about their intentions or ask their permission." [Guardian]

How consumers let down their guard on web privacy

There's a piece in the NYT by Somini Sengupta on how we are increasingly turning over our data online "in exchange for a deal we can’t refuse." The story profiles Alessandro Acquisti, a behavioral economist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, who studies how online users make these choices. "In a series of provocative experiments, he has shown that despite how much we say we value our privacy — and we do, again and again — we tend to act inconsistently." [NYT]

Unicorn Chaser

lalalalala i can't see the mealworms

Image: "Unicorn Resting - A white unicorn rests under a bright star," by Catmando, for Shutterstock.

Dinner’s Revenge: mealworms that survive in the stomach, then eat their way out of predators

“Within ten to twenty seconds,” came the report, “the mealworm is chewing out of the animal’s stomach.”

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April Fools now big business

"The April Fool is dead," writes Alastair Macdonald. "Or at least the gentle jester of the common folk has metastised into a corporate colossus controlled by global marketing executives, bestriding the Internet to force familiar brands ever deeper into the collective consciousness."

Rocket scientist who also made "a mean beef stroganoff" inspires debate on how to write about lady-scientists

Rocket scientist Yvonne Brill honored by President Obama. (Courtesy of Ryan K. Morris/National Science & Technology Medals Foundation)

Yvonne Brill, a Canadian rocket scientist who developed jet propulsion technologies, died recently at 88, after a long career propelling human beings toward the stars. The New York Times obituary by Douglas Martin began with a quote about her cooking and mothering skills:

“She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. ‘The world’s best mom,’ her son Matthew said.”

Brill developed the concept for a new rocket engine, the hydrazine resistojet, but the paper of record starts off with her beef noodle skils.

It's a sweet comment from her grieving son, yes; but obituaries of prominent male scientists don't open like that. And obituaries of prominent women in historically male-dominated professional fields very often do.

After much public outcry—Douglas Martin must be punished!—the Times edited the lede to omit the stroganoff. Vegans and feminazis rejoiced.

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Online journalism consumers are "looters"

Noted crankypants Bob Garfield, co-host of On The Media, likens current consumers of (mostly free, readily-shared) online news to "looters" who "enjoy an improved standard of living."

Writing in a Guardian op-ed section ironically titled "Comment is Free," Garfield says that standard of living "only stays improved until the store is emptied out."

Those consumers cheerfully using the web to sample content from all over the world via news websites, blogs and aggregators are essentially picking the inventory clean. Oh, and when they get the stuff home, the goods aren't what they used to be. And some of the stuff has a sour smell to it.

tl;dr anyone who cares about journalism should "pray for paywalls and other subscription models to take hold." Go read the rest. Apparently it's not an April Fool's joke, but a sincere rant.

* You just got excerpted and aggregated, bro.

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward: HP Lovecraft, much improved in graphic form.

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is a recent graphic novel adaptation of the classic 1928 HP Lovecraft story of the same name, masterfully executed by INJ Culbard.

The dirty secret of the Cthulhu mythos is that their originator, HP Lovecraft, wasn't a very good writer. In addition to his unfortunate tendency to embrace his era's backwards ideas about race and gender, Lovecraft was also fond of elaborate, tedious description that obscured the action and dialog. Which is a pity, because Lovecraft did have one of the great dark imaginations of literature, a positive gift for conjuring up the most unspeakable, unnameable (and often unpronounceable) horrors of the genre, so much so that they persist to this day.

Enter INJ Culbard, whose work adapting various Sherlock Holmes stories into graphic novels for Self-Made Hero press I've reviewed here in the past. Culbard is a fine storyteller and artist, and makes truly excellent use of the medium to deliver a streamlined Lovecraft, one where the protracted, over-elaborated descriptions are converted to dark, angular drawings that manage to capture all the spookiness, without the dreariness.

This is really the best way to enjoy Lovecraft.

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

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